Thursday, May 1, 2014

IMPORTANT HDC MEETING .. Monday April 28th at 7 p.m.

The Historical District Committee met this past Monday night to discuss and vote on accepting new guidelines regulating what can and can not be done to existing as well as new proposed homes and businesses in the Winchester Historic Districts. Chairman Dennis Murphy's oversight ( deliberate? ) of not posting this upcoming meeting on the Kiwanis billboard in the center of town has left many scratching their heads as to why the chairman of this board acted in this manner. Was he afraid of public input as the new regulations adopted, written by none other than Margaret Sharra and the previous chairman, Michael Hammond, which are very loosely drawn up and very questionable and permits just about anything the hand selected board approves.

Take a very close look at the wording of regulations J - M .. ( someone should have used spell check )

Historic District Guidelines

The Historic District Commission goal is not to freeze the past by bringing everything back to a particular time period, but to blend old and new while managing change and growth, and allowing property owners a reasonable/economical use of their property. It is important to cherish and renovate historic properties, as they are assets to our town.

  1. The historical, architectural or cultural value of structure’s relationship to the surrounding area is a primary consideration.
  2. The compatibility of exterior design/materials/layout is looked at in the surrounding area.
  3. The scale and general size of the buildings in the surrounding area is used in decisions. Including roof types, facade openings, setbacks, etc.
  4. The overall setting, lighting, parking, fencing, driveways, signage, landscaping is noted to protect against the negative effects to the character of structures in the surrounding area.


  1. The removal of historic materials or alterations of features that characterize a property shall be avoided.
  2. Deteriorated historic features will try to be repaired rather than replaced. When it is not possible, replacement shall match the design and color where possible.
  3. Additions, accessory structures and new work shall be compatible with the existing size, features and details of the building.
  4. Skylights, solar panels, dormers, antennas, and like should be placed as not to detract from historic features. When possible they should be placed in the rear of the structure.
  5. Fencing is to be compatible and contribute to the surrounding area. Design, materials and height is to be consistent with the area.
  6. Recreation facilities are dependant on the degree of visibility and to be placed compatible to the surrounding area.
  7. Signs that are backlit, neon or flashing are prohibited. All signs will conform to the Town of Winchester sign ordinance. The design, placement, material and color will be compatible with the structure and surrounding area.
  8. Retention of stonewalls and healthy un-obstructive trees are encouraged to remain.
  9. Parking areas, driveways, walkways will be designed and of materials similar to the surrounding area.
  10. New construction should contribute to the surrounding area. New designs can add character and depth to the district. New construction does not have to match. Height, roof forms, materials, shapes of doors and windows, and fa├žade elements.    However they do not have to be original materials but the materials have to match. They should blend/complement with the surrounding area.
  11. A non historic structure in the historic district will not be held to these listed standards, but any exterior changes would be required to blend with the existing structure and not negatively affect surrounding historic structures.
  12. Any structure in the historic district that is not historic or a historic structure with many (previous) non historic alterations cannot be mandated to make historic changes to the property that are not part of the application. The commission may ask the applicant when renovating a non historic component of a structure to make it more historic but it cannot be a requirement.
  13. Demolition of a structure is not a preferable option, if replacement construction would be a better fit in the surrounding area. Per HDC Ordinance 5(a) which states; “Regulated Activities – It is unlawful for any person to construct, alter, repair, move or demolish any building, structure, or improvement which lies within the Historic Districts without first obtaining a Certificate Of Approval from the Historic District Commission”. If it is determined that it is not economically feasible to rehabilitate the building due to defects. Requests for demolition shall be based on structural integrity and building code defects and must include a report from a licensed architect or professional engineer, or contractor with appropriate level of experience that have to approved by both parties. The report shall include the costs of rehabilitation of the structure and evidence the existing building is incapable of producing a reasonable economic return on the investment or whereas the cost exceeds a reasonable end result value.
  14. Relocation of a structure is not an ideal solution, but it is considered an alternative to demolition. Relocation of a structure is preferred to another area in the Historic District. 
It is obvious this was a rush job and catering to those who signed the petition to abolish the HDC and an attempt to keep the public from commenting at the meeting. We now have another board in town with no leadership or transparency. How is this good for the town?


Anonymous said...

Why do you think they got Murphy to run, he will do as he is told.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps this meeting should be considered null and void. It could be used as a discussion session. They could post for another meeting that would meet the requirements of the town or the law. We all should notice that the house on Main Street is now listed for sale with the Masiello Group.

Anonymous said...

It's obvious you did not attend the meeting, as several homeowners who did not sign the petition actually gave their views on the new proposed regulations. By the way, the former chairman's name is Mike Haman not
Hammond. I find it interesting that most of the people that are in favor of enforcing HDC rules to the hilt, are very comfortable in their consideration of us as 2nd class citizens with no property rights.

Anonymous said...

To the commenter above;

Like the Geico commercial, 15 minutes etc. I assume you can read but wonder when you bought your property if you bothered to look up the regulations governing property in the Historic District and understood what was involved prior to purchasing, or if you are so arrogant as to believe regulations and restrictions don't apply to you? No one thinks anyone living in this town is a second class citizen; but when people attempt to change the rules to meet their own wants and needs, you have to wonder about their character.

just plain sick of all of it said...

Has anyone besides me ever noticed that every time something strange goes on in this town or there is some controversy over something done or not done, that Margaret Sharra is always dab smack right in the middle of it? What's this woman's agenda? Seems every year since she has been in her positions in the land use office she has gone about gutting zoning laws and town regulations to her own liking allowing some very questionable activities to happen in Winchester and now here she is once again influencing changes to the Historic District rules that have stood for so many years. It's obvious to me at least that she is out to see that certain people get passed regulations in order for them to get their approvals and allow them to build or remodel when they shouldn't be allowed to. This isn't right' but who do you complain to when our selectmen are just as bad?

Anonymous said...

To the commenter who mentioned Geico:
This may come as a suprise, but there are folks like me who have owned their home long BEFORE the ordinance passed. I'm not looking to expand my home in any way, but when the HDC tells me I need permission to perform simple repairs, plant a shrub or tree, tell me I need permission to remove a dead tree that has fallen - something is wrong. It would help if you knew the facts before being judgmental.

show me proof said...

How about you posting the letter you got from the HDC telling you you couldn't do this or that and where it says you can't remove a downed tree. I for one would like to know who signed this letter they sent you. Myself I think you are full of it and just trying to justify a personal vendetta that seems to be the root of this whole mess.

Anonymous said...

The Historic District Commission's Regulations can not be changed until they have been voted on through a Warrant Article(s) by the public on the March ballot. Only Rules of Procedure can be changed in the manner you described.

It should also be noted that the current commission regulations were originally drawn up by Attorney Bart Meyer. Has he been consulted about the changes and the legitimacy of the proposed articles?

Anonymous said...

To Show me Proof:
I would be happy to provide you with the cease and desist letter that was hand typed by the former chairman. The fallen tree was in my neighbor's yard. Vendetta? Against whom? I just want to be able to repair my home. Maybe you should read the 1997 ordinance in it's entirety. Especially the part about trees. The new proposed rules say I can't even plant them. Read it, all of it not just the outtakes. This was brought up in Tuesday's meeting, you should have been there. Once again, you prejudge without the facts. Maybe the masthead should be changed to the 'Winchester Opinion', facts inform, opinion does not. If you feel the ordinance is not overly burdensome on the homeowner, then why not purchase a home in the district, and you too can live by the rules, and show all of us who live here how easy and carefree life in the HD is. I did not sign any petition, and I did not vote to abolish the district. But, with a conflicted, arbitrary and capricious set of rules, it makes it difficult not to run afoul of someone else's impression of what they actually are.

Forest Gump said...

REF:Just plain sick of it!

With Sharra nothing will change in this town and she will continue to run the town's legal fees up every tax payers' Ying Yang (and it's not a river in China), continue to be dab smack in the center of every controversies, she is just one in a line of bimbos we have had in the town hall over the past years. To get rid of her is to get rid of Tedford and Gardner first because they protect her. Look what happened when Brian Moser's budget committee laminated her job....The selectmen gave her a new job description and promoted her with big raises. Go figure!

Coining a golf term...It's par for Winchester.

show me proof said...

Still waiting for that letter anonymous, what's the hold up? Are we having trouble making one up, or is it just out of your scope to edit the one you supposedly received? I still think you're full of it.

the Winchester Informer said...

To the anonymous person living in the district that has been commenting and is upset over comments and opinions expressed on this blog, let me remind you that the blog administrator only approves the comments posted, does not necessarily agree with the comments that get posted or the opinions of the posters themselves, including yours. If you have issues with what other people have said in responding to your post, then we suggest you post someplace where only people who agree with you will comment.
If you are having trouble posting the letter you stated you received from the chairman of the HDC, redact your name from it and send a copy in an email to this blog and we will post it for you.

show me proof said...

Well just as I figured and as many of the people I have discussed this with have said, anonymous with the letter, you are full of it.You are just someone here in town running your mouth to cause more issues. we don't need clowns like you making false accusations and telling lies to gain support in your efforts to soil the names of good people who try to enforce the tasks they are mandated to do. Go away!

Anonymous said...

You'll never see that proof as there never was any letter. Just another bs'er who's part of the clique downtown looking to start more controversy.

the Winchester Informer said...

To the person/persons who sent a comment in regards to the letter that was mentioned above and that we have not seen: We found your comments untrue as we have read all of the HDC minutes posted. The only letters mentioned in those minutes were notifications of proposed changes to regulations and the times and dates of meetings scheduled to discuss the new changes, which were sent out to all parties living the Historical Districts. There was also mention of a few letters sent out to request that some property owners who had made changes to the physical appearance of their properties to come before the board and answer why they did so without notifying the board as required by law prior to making these changes. The only mention of a tree that we found was that of one between the Sharra property and the Elm Center that had fallen and was scheduled for removal late last year. It seems your attempt to place blame and discredit the HDC was personal as your statements proved to be entirely untrue. Lastly, outside links are not allowed by commenters for the protection of the people who comment and read here. Although your link was to the meeting minutes of the HDC, all links are forbidden; no exceptions.